Ryan Loflin plans to make history, becoming the nation’s first commercial-scale hemp grower in almost 60 years. In a few days, he will plant his hemp crop on a farm in the far southeastern corner of Colorado. Loflin and a handful of other growers are set to capitalize on hemp’s new legal status in Colorado.
Plenty of financial, operational and legal challenges lie ahead. But cultivating the marijuana look-alike is no novelty pursuit for Loflin, who owns a company called Colorado Hemp. He sees it as a commodity that one day could help reverse the sagging fortunes of rural Colorado.
“I believe this is really going to revitalize and strengthen farm communities,” said Loflin, 40, who grew up on a farm in Springfield but left after high school for a career in construction.
Now he returns, leasing 60 acres of his father’s alfalfa farm to plant the crop and install a press to squeeze the oil from hemp seeds. He’ll have a jump on other farmers, with 400 starter plants already growing at an indoor facility prior to transplanting them in the field.
Hemp is genetically related to marijuana but contains little or no THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana.
The sale of hemp products in the U.S. — including food, cosmetics, clothing and industrial materials — reached an estimated $500 million last year, according to the Hemp Industries Association.
By Steve Raabe
Read the full story at denverpost.com